In general, an animal attack can be referred to as an attack by an animal that triggers injuries and in some cases death to a person. Laws connected to animal attacks will specify when an owner may be liable for resulting injuries. As such, the meaning and legal effects associated with such actions will vary by state.
For example, a dog owner may face criminal attack charges in some states if their pet attacks another person. This can occur when a pet or dog’s characteristics meet the criteria of “vicious” or “dangerous” provided in a state statute and their owner stops working to fairly restrain (e.g., put a leash on) their pet despite understanding that it is dangerous.
Another example of when legal action may be brought for an animal attack is when a state has actually enacted rigorous liability steps for people who raise wild or prohibited animals. For example, suppose an individual keeps a wild tiger in their home in a jurisdiction that recognizes stringent liability laws and the tiger severely hurts or assaults a neighbor. That person will immediately end up being responsible for damages no matter whether the next-door neighbor initiated the attack.
In addition, numerous states also have statutes about domesticated animal liability, especially laws specifically developed for dog bites or attacks. There are likewise instances where there may be exceptions that serve as a defense to the canine attack as if they were stopping a criminal.
Lastly, an individual can be sued for their animal’s actions if they failed to keep a victim reasonably safe from damage. These actions are based on the theory of neglect and can arise in a range of situations, such as if the owner failed to alert victims of the animal’s possibly harmful quality. In such cases, the owner will still be accountable even if the owner wasn’t knowledgeable about any previous events.
For example, failed to add a warning sign to your fence if you own a particular kind of pet dog breed that is notoriously understood for having particular dangerous characteristics.
Who is Liable for Animal Attacks?
As talked about above, there are many legal consequences that an owner can face if their animal triggers harm or injury to another person. An owner might also be responsible for residential or commercial property damage brought on by their animal.
For example, a victim’s instant relative may bring a wrongful death suit against an owner whose animal caused death to a loved one. Damages for these cases typically include some type of monetary or compensatory damages award if successful.
Other parties that may be held responsible consist of:
- Animal keepers who are not the owners;
- People in possession of the animal who are not the owners (e.g., pet caretakers);
- Businesses whose companies include animals (e.g., animal shop owners, animal shelters, zoos, kennels. and so on), or allow animals on the residential or commercial property (e.g., cafes that permit dogs);
- Individuals who sell animals;
- Steady keepers; and
- Animal trainees or trainers
Depending upon state statutes and the facts surrounding a specific matter, various rules will apply if the attack was performed by a pet or domestic animal versus an unsafe or wild animal. As briefly discussed above, people who own wild animals will automatically become responsible for any resulting injuries caused by their animals. Possessors or keepers of wild animals can be held responsible too.
As for owners of domestic animals or animal owners, the kind of claim submitted and state statutes will determine who can be held liable. For instance, both an owner or keeper who understood a domestic animal’s unsafe characteristics can be called to account. However, if a state has a “dog bite” statute like the one enacted by Texas legislatures, then such statutes will just apply to the owner under a theory of strict liability.
In general, the most typical way that other individuals aside from an owner can be held responsible for a family pet or domestic animal’s actions will be based upon a theory of negligence.
What Recovery is Possible for Victims of Pet Bites or Animal Attacks?
The most typical kind of damages that a victim will recuperate in these kinds of cases are compensatory or monetary damage awards. The quantity gotten after gathering such an award connected to an animal bite or attack may be utilized to cover the following items, such as:
- Associated medical expenses (e.g., procedures, treatments, and medications);
- Future medical treatment;
- Expenditures for mental counseling;
- Lost wages or loss of incomes; and/or
- Punitive damages in extreme cases
Can I Purchase Insurance Coverage to Safeguard Against a Dog Bite or Animal Attack Liability?
Getting insurance coverage can be helpful in protecting an owner’s liability for a pet bite or animal attack. For example, some property owner or renters insurance policies will cover damages for injuries brought on by an animal.
Other policies may not offer such protection or it might depend on the type of animal that triggered the damage. As such, it is necessary that an owner review the regards to a policy prior to choosing which insurance coverage to buy.
In some circumstances, having a car or truck insurance might likewise lower the quantity that an owner needs to spend on their animal’s conduct. For example, in cases where a motor vehicle is associated with the incident, an individual’s car insurance will limit just how much a plaintiff can gather regardless of how major of an injury they got.
As the Victim of an Animal Attack, Should You Work with a Lawyer?
A victim of an animal attack ought to seek advice from an unsafe animal attorney if they wish to sue for damages. The legal representative can help the victim to collect evidence, determine the state laws that will either aid them or avoid them from filing a claim and will likewise understand what kind of action they must bring.
In addition, an unsafe animal attorney can likewise examine whether bringing a suit would remain in the victim’s best interest, or if they should pursue another legal option.
Finally, victims who get a serious injury from an animal attack should also consider hiring a lawyer to ensure that they receive the optimum quantity of damages for their suffering.
What Is the Animal Owner’s Legal Responsibility for A Dog Attack?
As discussed above, an animal owner can be held liable for the effects if their animal or canine attacks somebody. This holds true for the majority of animal attack cases. Depending on the action, this might imply that they need to pay damages to a victim, will have to give up their animal if it is unlawful to possess such an animal, and in extreme cases, they can even be sent to jail.
In addition, a commercial animal owner can also be held legally responsible for injuries. This will normally happen in a circumstance where the business owner or one of their staff members does not take proper safety measures in cautioning consumers or restraining the animals (e.g., if a zookeeper did not lock the cages).
One primary distinction between commercial owners and the typical animal owner is that if effectively proven, pet owners can normally be delegated of the actions of their pet no matter what.
How Can Animal Owner Liability Be Mitigated?
There are specific factors that may mitigate (i.e., decrease) the animal owner’s liability, such as:
- If the injured individual assumed the threat of and/or provoked the attack;
- Whether the animal owner offered appropriate caution about the animal’s characteristics or prospective dangers of being near the animal;
- How foreseeable the attack was (e.g., an individual who deliberately trespasses on the owner’s residential or commercial property despite ample cautions may receive decreased or no damages if attacked);
- If the event in question occurred and is being heard by a court in a state that acknowledges contributory neglect theory; and
- If the owner has insurance coverage that will pay for a few of the damages.
It should be kept in mind, however, that some of these factors will depend on state laws and the private facts of a case.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Assist With an Animal Attack?
Animal attacks can result in major effects for both the owners of the animals and individuals injured by them. Hence, whether you are the victim of an animal attack or your animal is responsible for hurting another person, you should consider contacting a regional accident legal representative for further legal guidance.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can talk about the state laws that apply to your case, help you with preparing and submitting a lawsuit, and will be able to represent you in court if necessary.
Call us now at (281) 990-5200 for a free consultation!